Wednesday, July 15, 2009


So, I've been a little lonely during the days here. Now, I don't want this post to be seen as a complaint, or a cry for help. I'm living in Europe and traveling the world with my best friend. Trust me, I understand how wonderful this is and I really am totally enjoying it. All I'm saying is that the days by myself have been a big adjustment for me. It probably wouldn't even be that big of a change if I could say more than "Bonjour" and "Merci" to my many wonderful (or so I choose to believe) neighbors. Consequently I watch the clock probably a little too anxiously and and a little too frequently throughout the day waiting for 6:30. I'm not used to this no-friend, no-conversation thing.

In any other circumstance I wouldn't consider my relationships with the local shop keepers "friendships", but desperate times call for desperate measures and in order to keep up my social well-being, we're going to call them my friends.
I give you a recent conversation I had with one of my "pals".
Me: "Bonjour."
Pal: "Bonjour."
Me: "Sugar?"
Pal: "Huh?"
Me: "Uh...salt?"
Pal: "Ah Yes." Gives a nod of recognition, and turns to go get the salt.
Me: "Ok, wait!" Both hands out in front of me in a stop gesture. "Now, the other" swaying my shoulders left and right and making hand motions to suggest the opposite of salt - somehow.
Pal: Surprisingly, gives another nod of recognition, and turns to get me a bag of sugar.

Clearly, we get each other.

Now, on to my next item, honey. I'll have you know, I usually look up the French word for the items I want to purchase beforehand if I think I won't be able to find them, but the sugar and honey were spontaneous purchases.

Me: "Honey?"
Pal: "Huh?"
Oh no, here we go again.
Me: "Sweet, syrupy....sugar" (cause we already had that one established) all the while making big hand gestures like I'm pulling taffy.


As stated earlier, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Me: Hunching my shoulders, lifting up my right arm so that my hand is directly in front of my face, pinching my thumb and pointer finger together and squint my eyes (you know, using proper ASL etiquette to gesture something small) and then move said hand all over the place and loudly let out a, "Buzzzzzzzzzz."
Pal: Again, a nod of recognition and a smile, "Ah yes!"

He gets it. I get my honey.
And a friend.

You can only imagine how excited I was to meet another shopkeeper who spoke English. He was real friendly at first and we were talking a little bit. I was thinking I was making a new pal.
Finally he asks: "Where are you from?"
Me: "America."
English Speaking Store Employee: "I hate America."
So much for friend-making.
Me: Nervously laughing, "Oh! Oh."
He's from Afghanistan.
He did later say that he liked American people, however I frequent that store a little less often.

Cassie and Chelsey came to visit us. Need I tell you how big this deal was?
Unfortunately, Chelsey and Cassie arrived Sunday night so Al wasn't able to do any of our day outings. But we always joined up for the evenings, of course.

Day One

We (Me and friends) left the house around noon and took a train to Brugge.
It was pretty great.

Imagine a quainter, more picturesque Amsterdam.
Or, as we called it, The Shop Around The Corner Town.

Me with friends on a Canal ride.

Before we left for Brugge that morning I reminded them that they might want to bring their umbrellas. Chelsey didn't want to bother with such extra weight ("hands free 200...9") and said she'd just enjoy the rain if it came. Notice: her head is covered by an empty plastic bag that she found on the ground.

Honestly, the best chocolate I've ever tasted.

Or they.

Like I said, pretty great.

We then hopped on a train back to Brussels around 6:00 and arrived a half hour later, just in time to meet up with Alex. We searched the internet for a restaurant, since Alex and I had only been out once prior to their arrival.

We ended up at this place.
It was delicious.



Hayley (and Kyle) said...

I know how the lonely stuff goes... Kyle is gone right now for 3 weeks (no phone, no letters, no email) home for one week, then gone for another 2 weeks. This happens a lot-- and though the people speak english, I still don't know anybody! (Conversation with Rambo doesn't really count...)It is way hard to adjust. My best advice is to wander & Take pictures, read books you never got around to before, and obviously-- blog.
Miss you girl!

Kellee Marie Cook said...

anne- first of all I love your hand motions and I can clearly picture you do this. thank goodness for staff [insert appropriate personal name sign here] and our asl classes. Also you don't know how badly I wish I was there. It's weird since you badly need a buddy and I badly need to be travelling in Europe. Maybe i'll go try winning the lottery.. you know I'm 21 now.

anyways miss you times a mill and I can't say enough how I wish I was there again and we were two buddies travelling all over together again.

Mandy said...

I just read your post aloud to ryan and did the hand gestures for him just so he could get the full effect. Love it. I'm sure I would do the same.

jPate said...

Ha ha ha ha ha oh annie, I was laughing out loud at your sugar and honey adventure, your life is darling!

A and L said...

i am so sorry annie! the foreign life is a very lonely onei must say. you can now probably understand why i got teary waiting for you guys at the airport last summer.

your market experience is priceless! you apparently did an excellent job explaining yourself. and a great job giving us that full picture as well. maybe you can go visit the English speaking store more often. nothing wrong with letting the rest of the world know what there are great Americans like yourself.

keep holdin on... you don't have too much longer.

A and L said...

p.s. couldn't you have used your ol' stand by?